Increased pressures within the job market, over-achieving school leavers and a rise in people needing retrain due to dwindling job prospects, has caused a considerable rise the number of university applications.
The job of the admissions department of universities all over the world is becoming increasingly more difficult. Thousands of school leavers are seeking to claim the prise of their top choice of university, and often these students have similar qualifications to the candidate next in line. With this in mind, universities are able to select the cream of the crop, so you, as a candidate need to differentiate yourself form the crowd.
The problem with qualifications is that they only highlight your academic performance, but they are not a true reflection of you, the human! The admission departments want to see more than just academic achievements, they want to see passion, enthusiasm, creativity, adaptability. They want to see the person behind the GCSE’s, A Levels and Standard Grades. They can already see that you are a proficient test taker, but they want to see the future leaders, articulation, ambition and commitment.
The personal statement is your chance to shine, although, it can be a source of anxiety and worry for the applicant. The thought of having to write about one’s self can be excruciating, paralysing – in fact. To help you with the process I have produced a handy how to guide:
One thing that you need make sure of is that your statement is well targeted. Don’t start making garish, off-the-wall statements of you are applying for a law degree, save that for the marketers. You need to write to your audience. Tone is everything and some courses are more forgiving than others. Industries tend to have a bias towards thinking styles, and this should be reflected within your writing style. Try to write your personal statement to suite the tone of the course.
Create a Mental Image
No – I don’t mean write, “I am 6ft 2’ brown hair and well-built”. What I am referring to is be expressive within your writing style. Think about your hobbies, interests, goals and achievements in life. Give them examples of why you enjoy your selected course, demonstrate that not only do you want to study it, but you are actually interested! Dig a bit deeper than just the typical, “I really enjoy ………………. because I like a challenge”. Immerse yourself deeper into the topic area, show some demonstrations of extended reading, and don’t forget to be expressive in your writing style, although do recall my previous point. The admissions officer wants to see the person behind the qualifications, so give them it.
Depth Not Breadth
Of course, in my last point I highlighted that you have to paint the picture, this does not mean that you have to write your life story in narrative, in fact, quite the opposite. Go for depth rather than lots of waning about every achievement you have ever accomplished. Try to select relevant information where you can highlight transferrable skills. Captivate the reader, not bore them.
I would like to highlight some house-keeping; basically I want to discuss some tips and points to keep your personal statement in order.
Typically, your statement should resolve to around no more than 4,000 characters (including spaces). This is easy enough to check with a word processing programme, such as MS Word.
Do not be tempted to copy someone’s statement. There really are several reasons for this, all of equal importance. Universities will run your statement through a plagiarism checker, so you won’t get away with it, but if you are a master “paraphraser” and you do pass, well…. Well, it’s just not really going to be a true reflection of yourself, or your qualities – let’s face it, it’s just blatant dishonesty.
Don’t make stuff up! Just don’t; nothing worse than being caught out when you do.
Don’t mention any specific universities or instantiations in your statement, particularly due to the fact that you will be sending the document too all of your choices of university. You don’t want to lay claim to a preference within your document, as you may not be selected for that institution, and the rest won’t even consider you. Keep it general in regards to where you want to go.
If you would like to find some personal statement examples, Apply To Uni have an excellent resource offering lots of insight.
The author of this article, James King, is a professional writer and writes for a company Nido who specialise within the field of providing student accommodation in London.